Back to the office: the importance of good ventilation

Back to the office after corona: many companies will see their employees return to the office in the coming weeks and months. As an employer, you need to prepare for this. Your employees expect a hygienic and above all virus-free working environment.

In response to the coming back to the office after the corona virus, Multi Masters Group compiled the white paper ‘Trust in hygiene’. In this excerpt we look at how you can prevent the spread of viruses such as COVID-19 through proper ventilation.

Back to the office: ventilation advice from REHVA

“The general advice from REHVA (Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Associations) is as follows: provide as much outside air as possible to remove germs from contaminated surfaces. This involves the greatest possible volume of fresh air per person.

When preparing for your employees to come back to the office after the corona pandemic, you should pay extra attention to good ventilation.

Mechanical and natural ventilation

For buildings with mechanical ventilation systems, it is advisable to keep these systems running 24 hours a day. As soon as there are no more people in the building, they can be set to a lower setting.

If there is no mechanical ventilation, the only option is to open the windows more often. For example, open all windows for 15 minutes as soon as employees enter the room. In this case, the health of the employees takes precedence over any lack of thermal comfort.

In toilet areas, ventilation systems should be on day and night. Be careful with natural ventilation: polluted air from a toilet room can enter neighbouring rooms. In that case, it is advisable to open the windows in the other rooms as well.

Switch off central air recirculation

Some centralised air handling units are equipped with recirculation. Air recirculation can allow virus particles in return air ducts to enter the building. REHVA recommends avoiding centralised air recirculation until the COVID-19 virus has been eliminated. Shut down the recirculation dampers via the building management system or manually, even if it would cause problems for cooling or heating capacity.

Sometimes air handling units and recirculation sections are equipped with exhaust air filters, but these filters cannot effectively filter out the virus particles.

When preparing for your employees to come back to the office after the corona pandemic, you should pay extra attention to good ventilation.

Avoid decentralised air recirculation

Decentralised ventilation systems, such as fan coil units, also use local air recirculation. Turn off these systems too to avoid spreading virus particles at room level, especially when rooms are normally used by more than one person.

Fan coil units have coarse filters that practically do not filter out virus particles. If it is not possible to turn these devices off, include them in the cleaning campaigns. Like any other surface in the room, they can collect virus particles.”

Back to the office: order the white paper

This text is from the white paper ‘Trust in hygiene’ which is entirely dedicated to facility management during and after the corona pandemic. The white paper is available in Dutch and French.

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